Human vs machines

Advanced technology and machines are expected to replace humans in tens of millions of jobs in the coming decades. Many high-paying jobs appear not to be immune to technological replacement. Will we even need humans to perform work in the future? NC State University economist Mike Walden answers.

“This is a great question. I think it’s one that many people are beginning to ask more fervently. And really some say that the question is not what technology is going to do next but what it won’t be able to do in the future.

“And one answer that many are providing right now is that a limit on technology is its ability to engage in personal interrelations. Now that might sound like a silly statement (given) the fact that we are talking about a machine, but if you think about what humans do when they get together. Let’s say you are in a business meeting; you are negotiating a deal. You try to read the other person you are negotiating with. You try to look for signals in their mannerisms, even in how they use their eyes, how they phrase things. And that seems to be a talent that it will be decades, if ever, that machines will be able to do.

“What does this mean in a practical sense? Well, it means in a practical sense (that) those occupations where interpersonal relations and engaging in people in order to find answers are more important — areas like education, health care and management.

“So researchers are saying that actually in terms of education what this may put more of an emphasis on is those degrees that give this kind of training — in the fine arts, in psychology, etc. — just the opposite of what many have said in the past where we have to push people into mathematics and engineering and so forth. Not that those won’t be important, but if we are worried about machines taking over, this area of interpersonal relations should be one where humans continue to dominate.”